Punk Knee Injury
CM Punk vs. Ryback is set for the Jan. 7 episdoe of "Raw" after the WWE Champion was cleared to wrestle by medical officials. The Rock will also be returning to WWE's first live "Raw" of 2013 WWE.com

It’s common knowledge that professional wrestling is staged, and performers have been written off with storyline injuries, but that’s not the case with CM Punk. The WWE Champion had legitimate knee surgery last month, sidelining him for the TLC pay-per-view, but WWE.com reports that the Second-City Saint has been cleared to face Ryback on the Jan. 7 episode of “Raw.”

The Tables, Ladders and Chairs match for the top belt in WWE was set for last month’s big event, but officials were worried about the health of their top star going into WrestleMania season. Punk is set to face the Rock at the Royal Rumble on Jan. 27, and canceling the champion’s match against Ryback for preventative surgery was more appealing than risking a serious injury, nixing his match with the Great One.

WWE used an attack from Punk’s longtime rival Ryback to explain the surgery.

“During CM Punk’s brief, albeit brutal encounter with Ryback this past Monday on Raw, CM Punk suffered a knee injury,” reads a statement from Vince McMahon on WWE.com from Dec. 4. “The surgery to repair Punk’s partially torn meniscus was successful."

The anticipated TLC match was canceled and a replacement bout was created, but now fans are going to start 2013 off with a huge “Raw” main event. The Jan. 7 edition of “Raw” will be WWE’s first live broadcast of the year, and is coming off of the expected low ratings during the holidays.

WWE physician Michael Sampson announced Punk’s condition during WWE’s “Main Event” program on Jan. 2. The match was originally announced on the Christmas Eve episode of “Raw,” but as the event drew closer, WWE officials made back up plans in case the Straight Edge Superstar couldn’t perform.

A match between Punk’s manager Paul Heyman and Ryback was set up as the alternative to the WWE Championship fight, but that match won’t be necessary. It could be an appealing fight, but since Heyman isn’t a wrestler, the show would have been short an actual main event.

According to NoDQ, people within WWE have said when the Jan. 7 episode of “Raw” is over, "people will be talking."

WWE has confirmed that next Monday’s show will also be the return of The Rock, as well, to build up to the WWE Championship match at the Royal Rumble. The entire month of January is set up as the precursor to the WrestleMania XXIX buildup, and is rumored to have stacked shows like the Jan. 7 episode, and the 20th anniversary of “Raw” the following week.